Critic for Dance Medium work "Coming home"
43th (2011) Dance CriticsAssociation Award
For choreography, direction and performance
of Dance Medium’s program “Kae-Ru”, in which penetrated deeply into the impact
of the Tohoku earthquake on Mar. 11, 2011, and gave strong impression
to the audience by expressing mourning for the victims and longing for the future
The Tohoku earthquake on Mar. 11,
2011 was taken up as a theme among various genres. Many choreographers and dancers gave performances with theme
of the tragedy, which is compared with WW II from which some hundred thousands
of people become its victims and incur further tragedy of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. Among them, “Kae-Ru”,
that was prepared with spending time of half a year and elaborate choreography with
6 dancers mainly in their 50s, expressed the sorrow of the pandemonium through
actual and contemporary performance of butoh with delving into the major crisis
bravely with avoiding Japanese-ish resignation and gloominess. Their achievement should be paid a
great attention and be recorded.
Especially, at its finale, 6 dancers
returning to their homeland after drifting by a raft of logs with a rag
flapping on a mast of a log gave a moving impression of reproduction of Théodore
Géricault ‘s “The Raft of the Medusa” which became a symbol of Romanticism in
France. Furthermore, echoing of
aria of “Baïlèro” reminds me of “Hou Sou Tan” of Tastmi
Hijikata, the mentor of Seisaku, and his word “Tohoku is being everywhere!”
Hijikata’s performance expressed extremely
tragic and powerful message with concentrating “the negative legacy” such as
starvation, small pox, leprosy and radiation sickness, and "Kae-Ru” which
produced by Hijikata’s pupil is an excellent and problematic work which has
different taste from Hijikata’s works.
I hope a revival of “Kae-Ru” with more
enrichment and larger scale.
Especially, if a performance in Auvergne, France, where “Baïlèro”
was born, came real, I believe it will give an opportunity for people of the
world to find the fact that such great tragedy is not occurred only in Japan,
but is repeatedly occurred in whole world and gave serious scar for man and
other lives, and it can bring serious risk for the earth itself. I also believe “dance” will give an opportunity
for sensible people all over the world to find uselessness of the nuclear arms
race which can cause WW III and of the international hegemony dispute.
In the period that political and economic
chaos spreading out internationally, I think we need to share a permanent ground
vision. As all nature other than
human such as sea, wind, birds, woods and animals, the artistic forms which has
no borders, especially dance, have great possibility to connect and merge many
fields such as politics and economy totally.
Toshimi Hurusawa (Dance critic)
My thought of Butoh
I'd like to introduce my idea of Butoh dance.Though it's my idea, I took it from many different experiences from past performances, books and people.
That came from different people whom I met before and ideas from traditional techniques of physical training such as ballet, Noh, Noguchi Seitai, Noguchi Gymnastics, Taichi, Yoga and so on. Also from books by great leaders.
I haven't learnt Butoh under Tatumi Hijikata who was the father of Butoh dance.But I learned Butoh from his student called Seisaku for 8 years. Before I met him, I learned myself by joining Butoh workshop sometimes from Butoh dancers and by seeing the Butoh performances.Though I did many Butoh performances in Japan and overseas and got good critics, I'm not satisfied.
" What is Butoh dance? Why I do Butoh dance? Why I did stop ballet and came into Butoh ?"That question has been staying in my mind for long time though I was happy to make performances.
Then I started to learn Butoh with getting back to original intention.It was so exciting to learn Butoh ideas. But at the same time it was very difficult.Because I had to find the basic idea of Butoh " To be empty" with my body.That's very simple and popular idea from long time ago, but really difficult to understand by the body itself.It relates closely with psychological things to be empty is.Also in the beginning, I had to forget the technique and ideas that I learned before.In another words, I needed to forget everything that I believed myself is!It took a long time my body to get the idea, but now I'm starting to understand it.
The idea like this.I think Butoh is not one style of the dance, but presentation of the way to live or how to be.We have been educated how to think and behave in our society since we were born, but is that the truth?Isn't 'that for to live easy to control by the society that we are living?That kind of education system is squeezing life from us while we are living.Brain that be educated controlled mind and body.So we have to have neutral condition the first of all like a baby.
Why do we have to have neutral condition to be empty?Because an empty body can have everything.If we have some special things like our own emotion or thought, audiences can see only that.But if we have a empty body, they can see everything they want to see.I think we should be something belongs to audiences when we are on stage.In another words, I want be a medium that combines audiences and something bigger.If I hold or stick to my thought or emotions, nothing comes to me.Audiences only can see me.That is not my way.
Butoh method has many effective method to be empty, to make the space bigger and to be everything.
So now I know what I have to try and do for my dance.
Born in Tokyo.Yuri began her ballet training at the age of ten,and at twelve she joined Hiraoka Shiga Dance Company to learn modern ballet. She took interests in various forms of performing arts and saw many dance and theater performances until she encountered Butoh in her late teens. Since then, she has been active in creating and showing her own performance pieces, both in Japan and overseas. From 1997, she performed and gave workshops in many countries such as South Korea, Hungary, Poland, Germany, France, United States and Mexico.She joined the film 「Shureitachi」directed by Masaki Iwana as an actress in 2004. 「Shureitachi」won grand prix at Portbello film festival in London.She organized Butoh Company Dance Medium with Seisaku(Butoh Dancer from Hakutohboh)and performed group pieces from 2005.
Her main work in the past include
Yuri create solo and group pieces. Improvisation is an important part of her dance because she believes that dance is to feel sensation with the body and not to make form with mind. No matter whether solo or group work, she starts her creation with providing a theme or an image and asking her dancers to improvise .Then, she picks up movements and arranges them,. She respects each dancer's physical characteristics, sense of value, way of life and creativity. Yuri is also active in collaborations with artists from different fields,especially, musicians.
Dance Medium Butoh workshop with Seisaku and Yuri nagaoka
It's coming it falls on us,
no, it's already there.
Flower stares at you.
already you are flower.
Born in Tokyo.
Yuri began her ballet training at the age of ten,and at twelve she joined Hiraoka Shiga Dance Company to learn modern ballet. She took interests in various forms of performing arts and saw many dance and theater performances until she encountered Butoh in her late teens. Since then, she has been active in creating and showing her own performance pieces, both in Japan and overseas. From 1997, she performed and gave workshops in many countries such as South Korea, Hungary, Poland, Germany, France, United States, Australia, Hong Kong, England and Mexico.
She joined the film 「Shureitachi」directed by Masaki Iwana as an actress in 2004.
She organized Butoh Company Dance Medium with Seisaku(Butoh Dancer from Hakutohboh)and performed group pieces from 2005.
In 2012, Yuri awarded a prize from Japan dance critics association by the piece "Kaeru-coming home"
In 19 Seisaku started learning Butoh under Tatsumi Hijikata.
After Hijikata was dead, he participated Butoh group "Hakutohboh" to work with Yohko Ashikawa and took part in almost of their pieces performed in Japan and overseas as a dancer .
In 19 , he got out of Hakutohboh to start his own activities such as solo dance, directing and choreographing for theatrical products, and group performances.
From in 2004 , he participated "Dance Medium" which presided over by Yuri Nagaoka to choreograph, direct, and dance in it.
In 2012, he awarded a prize of Dance critics association with Yuri Nagaoka by the piece"Kaeru-coming home"
Dance Medium Workshop( By Yuri and Seisaku)
If you want to know what Butoh dance is, you should experience it by using your body first of all.
There is no given form, so everybody has their own form.
We go into a deeper than our daily lives,. But we use sensations from our everyday life. For that, we should have empty body that without self-conciousness. That is to say that the body doesn't move by itself but is moved by something.
Why we should try to have empty body? For example, when painters paint pictures on white canvas, media-canvases are out of their body, subject and object are one.
If we hug an emotion and a reason, we have a colorless the first. And when we have empty bodies, we can be anything, we can get freedom to be anything....
We have to know what our body is.
Then do we lose our reason? No, we don't.
We need to have the eyes that look down ourself and look at ourself from outside. We can see our own body by having empty bodies.
When we escape from sudden fears, bodies react bynature. That kind of movement is not habitual one like trained by society but the movement by real emotion.
We will introduce various exercises of basic method of Butoh dance we will practice.
The words for Butoh workshop
Try to open the body in the workshop.
First, try to open various sensations to outside of the body, then feel.
Watch the stars, hear the sounds of the next room, touch cold water....
That looks easy, but actually we can't do it so easily.
Because we tend to re-create them.
Our body thinking depends on the image,
we try to confirm, arrange, and prepare when we start.
When we behave (do) such a way like that, our sensation and eyes are going to close.
When our hands and eyes touch something, another part of the body has to help them as hard as they can.
We have to use the whole body for doing anything.
There is no room for thought and emotion.
Thought and emotion should come later.
We should first have the desire to touch and ask, “Is that the same thing as love”?
That surely makes the space around you change.
My teacher Tatsumi Hijikata always scolded me,
" Show the invisible things, no one wants to see the things they already can see!!"
The space which is changing makes various forms by the way of the senses.
It's going to be complex forms.
But we should simply practice the first step.
After that, we can mix more elements that we need.
If we put too many elements on the body on the first step, the skin is going to die with noise, the eyes are going to go inside(thought and emotion).
People often talk about "going inside", but it's not so easy, we only can go inside by looking at ourselves from the outside space which already became our body.
The outside body looks at our body as if seeing an unknown thing.
It's not to barricade ourselves inside with a brain or emotion which are familiar to us.
Butoh dancer's eyes are different from the eyes of those that only see daily life.
Some are only looking and seeing themselves with the eyes which are closed by a thick membrane.
That is not good for Butoh dance.
When we have opening eyes, our body already became eyes itself,
so the (real?) eyes don't work as their function.
That's like a curtain waving at the window,
it waves by another factor (wind, someone pulling...etc) but by itself.
Now I remember the same thing as that.
For example, when a dancer happened to fall on the stage, it gives a strong expression to the audience.
But if he tries to do the same thing again, it cannot have the same effect (has never come back).
That strong power can never come back no matter how hard we try to do the same thing.
We can't get the power of the first time it happens. The first accident makes our body open because that is an unexpected thing.
If we try to do the same thing, our brain begins to work, then the sensation of the body closes.
Tatsumi Hijikata taught us that a Butoh dancer must be able to do each as the first (that) hundreds of times (as each).
So how can we do that?
The answer is "To become".
We become something and jump into the sea which we have to become.
Become the naked soul and jump in.
I think it's very important to throw away thought and usual custom for opening the body.
The thing I really want is one drop of water to the exhausted body.